Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Goodbye, Uncle Tom

The mondo documentaries were a fad in the sixties carrying on till the seventies and even the early eighties. The genre was born in the hands of Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi in their dubious early film Africa Addio (1966) that was blamed for racism in its depiction of what happens to Africa after the white Europeans leave the continent.

I haven't seen Africa Addio, but I just recently saw another film by the same duo, called Addio Zio Tom AKA Goodbye, Uncle Tom (1971). It's another exploitation documentary, using lots of footage of sex, rape, killing, maiming and torture. It's also a political film, since it's about the rise of Black Power in America in the late sixties and about the slavery of the earlier centuries. All the scenes are acted out, as there are understandably no archive films about the time of slavery. This is by no means as clever as the Cuban The First Charge of Machete.

Goodbye, Uncle Tom is a very shocking film with all its violence and gratuitous sex, including even minors. It's clear that the directors want very much to condemn the exploitation of slave business and the bad treatment of the Africans, but still they use it to depict sex and violence to attract audience. Goodbye, Uncle Tom is a very confusing film: I really didn't know what to think about it. It's also a bit too long, but the main problem is that it never really gives the word to the Africans or the Black Power activists of the sixties (it even at times ridicules the African-Americans of the late sixties, either for the lack of political consciousness or at their funny seriousness), and with this gesture it becomes clear that Jacopetti and Prosperi want to shout at white Americans: "Watch out, the niggers are coming and it's all your fault!"

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog.

Edit: Earlier I had used Mondo Case as an example, but I was pointed out that I was actually talking about Africa Addio.


Todd Mason said...

I think you got the message of this film just fine...the ignorant hostility (self-righteousness about racism in the US that is expressed by the children and little siblings of the soldiers who were killing and pillaging in Africa through colonialism up past World War 2, and who aren't actually interested in representing the plight of the Black or other oppressed American as their own scabrous take for exploitation purposes). Your countryman who signs himself Jaako synopsizes the Italian "adult" comics of the '70s and '80s that take a similar tack, for THE GROOVY AGE OF HORROR, wherein the defenders of the oppressed are at least as racist as the casually asinine Americans they portray, the latter, of course, often being women who "deserve" the rape they suffer. Yes, they're all heroes, these artists.)

Juri said...

Yeah, the fumetti sure isn't very correct politically anymore (if it indeed ever was). This film is something like a fumetti made into a documentary.

Todd Mason said...

Pseudo-documentary, yes. Not just Not Politically Correct...actually, it is very PC from the sneering jackass perspective of hoping to feel superior to US racism while wallowing in racism and sexism at least as vile...but berserk exploitation...which is indeed what Jacopetti was all about. The "adult" fumetti folks of those decades probably took a fair amount of cues from MONDO whathaveyou...and I see I dropped a phrase from "as much as wanting to advance their own scabrous take for exploitation purposes" from the comment above...but these clowns are pretty enervating.